Carolyn:

Three months ago, I submitted my resume to a well-known record company. A man there contacted me, assured me I was a good prospect and arranged to meet me at a concert. After the concert, I received several e-mails per day of a suggestive nature--"You are so pretty," etc. Since I was still holding out for a job, I subtly declined his advances.

Until one night, at another concert, we ended up kissing. We went out a few more times, and each time it became more involved. Last week, we arranged to meet at a bar. He brought along friends, as did I. During the course of this night, a few people told me one of his friends made rude comments about my roommate, who happens to be gay. When I confronted him over the phone the next day, he said I was playing "high school games," yet never denied the rumor. Since then, he won't return my calls or e-mails, and he even blocked me from his AOL "buddy list"! I was becoming interested in him as a romantic prospect and I still want to keep him as a business contact, but now it seems as if I have lost both.

--Chicago

Let us pause for a moment to savor what we just witnessed here: He accuses you of being juvenile, and then axes you from his buddy list.

I love my job.

When someone follows up a "professional" interview with suggestive e-mails, he's using his ability to hire you--or not--to pressure you to into sex. (Please, jump in when this starts to sound familiar.) His doing this should have identified him as one of your lower, more slithery life forms. When you entrust your heart and your career to one of these, you can't be shocked when you locate both under a rock.

If you're not convinced, consider your last conversation. You showed integrity when you stuck up for your roommate, and how did he respond? He hissed at you and left.

Sometimes, life offers up hints. And since "alone and unemployed" probably isn't in your life plan, I heartily suggest you take them.

Carolyn:

I recently started seeing a man who, on the first three dates, was funny, charming, interesting, if a little too politically conservative for my tastes. I made an error in judgment and slept with him after the fourth date (three weeks ago). Now, he has moved straight into casual relationship. We hang out at his house to watch movies or TV. He doesn't call to make plans with me for the weekend.

I really enjoy having sex with him, but now the things I liked about him seem to be disappearing. Is there something I can do to make it go back to the courtship phase, or did I wreck it by letting my hormones take over? And on a more theoretical level--what do men really think about women who sleep with them after the third or fourth date?

--Washington

Apparently, they think they don't need to buy you dinner anymore.

Apparently, they're right.

You know you made a mistake, so let's fix it, not flog it. First step, a little pride: Start refusing the bed-and-Blockbuster dates. If he's going to go out with you, he'll have to go out with you.

Second step: a clue. His not-calling habit is what I'd call a not-enthusiastic sign, so don't go shaving your legs just yet. That's the real reason for saying no--not to twist his arm till he feeds you, but to find out if he actually cares. He may want a bed buddy or nothing, and if that's true, you need to collect your nothing and run.

Even if he does care and you restore the eager courtship, are you sure he's what you want? Mistake or not, you've seen the future with him, and it is TV. If your vision of finely aged companionship includes beaches, Bordeaux and ballet, you may well have stumbled your way to enlightenment.

Hi Carolyn:

What does it mean when you realize you miss your significant other only when you see him-her? There are days when I think, "Yeah, I'm doing fine without her," but when I see her, I realize how much I really miss her. What is this?

--Seattle

Assuming you haven't sustained any long-term memory damage, it could be she's someone you like a whole lot but don't love.

Could be, too, you're simply stable enough not to feel a crushing sense of loss without her. You are thinking about her, at least, if only to notice that you're "doing fine" (which, by the way, is the kind of thing one normally tells oneself when one is doing precisely the opposite). And being happy to see her, that speaks for itself.

Obviously, there's no right or wrong way to feel. I've noticed, though, that good couples can be happy apart, but they'll have I-miss-you moments--say, when they notice something the other would have appreciated--and they'll always be glad to come home.

That seems about right.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or tellme@washpost.com, and join Carolyn's live discussion at noon today or at 8 p.m. Monday at washingtonpost.com/liveonline.